Minnesota loses their fourth straight this season

The Gophers remain winless on the road in Big Ten play under head coach P.J Fleck

Wide receiver Tyler Johnson attempts to avoid being tackled on Saturday, Oct. 20 at Memorial Stadium. Nebraska defeated the Gophers with a final score of 53-28.

Jack Rodgers

Wide receiver Tyler Johnson attempts to avoid being tackled on Saturday, Oct. 20 at Memorial Stadium. Nebraska defeated the Gophers with a final score of 53-28.

by Paul Hodowanic

The Minnesota Gophers (3-4, 0-4) couldn’t overcome an early 28-0 deficit against Nebraska (1-6, 1-4) losing 53-28 on Saturday.

Nebraska set the tone through the run game early, racking up 274 yards rushing in the first half, including touchdown runs of 40 and 59 yards by running back Devine Ozigbo. Quarterback Adrian Martinez also burned the Gophers on the ground a 53-yard run that set up a touchdown pass to Minnesota native JD Spielman to extend their lead to 28-0 with 1:58 remaining. 

“We are not making good enough tackles, we are not big enough,” said head coach P.J Fleck. “They were doing a great job of scheming us to put in a position where those people have to make tackles.”

However, down 28 the Gophers didn’t quit, scoring on a 13-yard pass reception by Demetrius Douglas with under a minute remaining, and converting a two point conversion on a fake field goal, cutting the Nebraska lead to 28-8. 

The Gophers started the second half without starting quarterback Zack Annexstad, who did not return with the team after the first half because of injury.  

“Zack had an internal injury in his mid-section so they got him to the hospital,” said Fleck in his post game remarks. “I think as of right now he’s being released and he’s going to meet us over there at the airplane.” 

That left Tanner Morgan to peak up the pieces and mount a comeback. 

Morgan responded well, completing his first pass to Chris Autman-Bell for a 69-yard catch and run setting up the Gophers at the Nebraska 4-yard line. Two plays later Mohamed Ibrahim punched it in from the 1-yard line. On the ensuing possession Seth Green scored from four yards out to cut the lead to 28-22, after a double reverse play set them up close again. 

The Gophers wouldn’t get closer than that however, as Nebraska scored on their following drive to extend their lead to 36-22. 

The Gophers kept fighting but a failed 4th down conversion at the Nebraska 3-yard line, and a Tanner Morgan interception at the Nebraska 7-yard line sealed the deal. 

Freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez was the star for Nebraska, throwing for 276 yards and 3 touchdowns and running it for another 125 and a score. 

“I think he is one of the better players in the country already. He’s a running back who is an incredible quarterback. He’s so fast, he’s so quick, he’s bigger than you think and he can hurt you,” said Fleck.

The Gophers defense struggled overall, giving up season highs in total yards, 659, rushing yards, 383 and points, 53. 

“That just can’t happen,” said linebacker Kamal Martin when addressing mental mistakes in the defense. “We’ll go ahead and fix that.”

Tanner Morgan did well in relief of Annexstad, leading the Gophers to start a mini-comeback. Morgan finished with 204 yards passing and an interception, plus 35 yards rushing and a touchdown.

 “I thought he did a great job coming out of the half,” said Fleck.

The loss kept the Gophers winless in Big Ten play this year and gave Nebraska and first year head coach Scott Frost their first win of the season. 

The loss also brought the Gophers record on the road against Big Ten teams to 0-7 since Fleck took over in 2017. 

Minnesota will look to regroup next week as they take on Indiana (4-4, 1-4) at home on Friday Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.